Related to the Hyundai Azera, the front-wheel drive Kia Cadenza sedan slots between the midsize Optima and the full-size K900. It has its own sheet metal and interior treatments, while delivering yet another vehicle featuring the brand’s now familiar tiger nose grille.

Pricing and Equipment

The 2016 Kia Cadenza starts at $32,990 (plus an $850 destination charge) for the standard model. The Cadenza is also available in Premium ($36,840) and Limited ($44,090) trim. All models are powered by a 3.3-liter V6 making 293 horsepower and 255 pound-feet of torque.

Standard equipment for the model tested included:

  • Projector beam headlights with automatic leveling
  • Alloy wheels
  • Body-colored and heated side mirrors with embedded turn signal indicators
  • Integrated dual exhaust with chrome surround
  • Rear camera display
  • Bluetooth wireless technology with hands-free connectivity
  • Standard leather seating
  • Heated front seats

Performance Pros

  • All models are outfitted with Flex Steer, allowing drivers to choose one of three steering weights. The Cadenza is easy to maneuver, especially when parking.
  • Our testers lauded the Kia Cadenza for its strong and confident brakes.

Performance Cons

  • You won’t confuse the Kia Cadenza with a sports sedan. Off-the-mark acceleration seems plodding until you move further up the rev band and the torque kicks in to rocket the sedan forward.
  • The steering seems weak and uninvolved, offering little feedback and requiring the driver to make corrections to keep it on course while driving on the highway.

Interior Pros

Kia Cadenza
  • A quiet cabin and a palatial interior are on par with traditional land yachts. Current Buick Lucerne and Mercury Grand Marquis owners should feel at home inside.
  • Across the model range, Kia outfits the Cadenza with its UVO telematics package. This Microsoft-powered system brings in roadside assistance and vehicle diagnostics; no subscription charge is assessed.
  • Models outfitted with the Luxury and Technology packages (standard on the Limited) are garbed in Nappa leather and include heated and ventilated seats. A panoramic sunroof, a retractable rear sunshade and high-end safety features such as smart cruise control are also included.

Interior Cons

Few models escape our scrutiny without some type of complaint levied. But the Cadenza's interior is nearly as good as you'll find anywhere, save for plastic touches found here and there.

The Most Pleasant Surprise

All models come well equipped across all three trim levels. Shoppers should seriously consider the base model, which comes with an Infinity surround sound audio system, voice-command navigation with an 8-inch color display, and leather seat trim.

The Least Pleasant Surprise

The top-of-the-line Limited model is expensive and surprisingly so. Price creep for this one-time budget brand means you’ll find four 2016 models topping out above $40,000—the K900 premium sedan, Sedona minivan and the Sportage SUV are the other three. Kia’s quality and reputation have improved sharply over the past decade. However, customer’s long-held perceptions of the brand may still lag.

The Bottom Line

Kia Cadenza

The Kia Cadenza may be similar to the Hyundai Azera, but it is a better vehicle in nearly every way. Kia calls it a “premium sedan,” placing it in a niche category that straddles the mainstream and luxury brands. Although all-wheel drive is not available, the Cadenza compares favorably to the Buick LaCrosse. It also offers more features for the money than some other models, including the Toyota Avalon. Its only downside may be its engine as the V6s powering the Chevrolet Impala and Buick LaCrosse outperform it.